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Soil nutrient dissimilarity and litter nutrient limitation as major drivers of home field advantage in riparian tropical forests


Oliva, Rebeca; Veen, G. F. (Ciska); Tanaka, Marcel (2023), Soil nutrient dissimilarity and litter nutrient limitation as major drivers of home field advantage in riparian tropical forests, Dryad, Dataset,


Decomposition is a key process driving carbon and nutrient cycling in ecosystems worldwide. The home field advantage effect (HFA) has been found to accelerate decomposition rates when litter originates from “home” when compared to other (“away”) sites. It is still poorly known how HFA plays out in tropical, riparian forests, particularly in forests under restoration. We carried out three independent reciprocal litter transplant experiments to test how litter quality, soil nutrient concentrations and successional stage (age) influenced HFA in tropical riparian forests. These experimental areas formed a wide gradient of soil and litter nutrients, which we used to evaluate the more general hypothesis that HFA varies with dissimilarity in soil nutrients and litter quality. We found that HFA increased with soil nutrient dissimilarity, suggesting that litter translocation uncouples relationships between decomposers and litter characteristics; and with litter N:P, indicating P limitation in this system. We also found negative HFA effects at a site under restoration that presented low decomposer ability, suggesting that forest restoration does not necessarily recover decomposer communities and nutrient cycling. Within each of the independent experiments, the occurrence of HFA effects was limited and their magnitude was not related to forest age, nor soil and litter quality. Our results imply that HFA effects in tropical ecosystems are influenced by litter nutrient limitation and soil nutrient dissimilarity between home and away sites, but to further disentangle major HFA drivers in tropical areas, a gradient of dissimilarity between litter and soil properties must be implemented in future experimental designs.


There are two data files, 1) soil and litter chemistry, and 2) litter mass loss. Soil and litter chemistry were determined for each plot between May and June 2019, in the dry season, summing 7 areas x 4 plots = 28 observations. Litter decomposition experiments were carried out between August 2019 and February 2020, and some samples were retrieved in March 2020 as explained in the text. Ash-free dry mass was determined for initial litterbags, as well as after retrieval. Data are presented as mass loss in percentage, calculated from [1 – (final mass/initial mass)] for each litterbag. Each of the three experiments involved litter translocation; therefore, for each experiment, there were 3 home areas x 3 away areas x 4 plots = 36 litterbags for each experiment, totaling 108 litterbags.

Usage notes

The data files are in open-source format (.csv format).


Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, Award: 2018/21913-8

Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, Award: Finance Code 001